Trooper told to delete visitor records for Governor’s Mansion, according to claim in Governor’s docs
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Among a slew of allegations against former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) Secretary Spencer Collier, a report included in Governor Robert Bentley’s documents submitted to the committee investigating him for impeachment includes a rumor that a state trooper was ordered to delete visitor logs for the Governor’s Mansion.
The ALEA Integrity Report used to justify firing Collier contains all kinds of bombshell implications about the former secretary, ranging from the personal to the professional. It includes documentation of state money allegedly being misspent, but it also includes second- and third-hand rumors about Collier’s alleged use of pills and even a rumor of an illegitimate child.
Collier’s attorney, Kenny Mendelsohn, says, “The reports read more like a tabloid than a law enforcement investigation. They are filled with rumors, suspicions and conjectures which breaches investigation procedures. ”
Collier’s attorney points out that Collier was never even interviewed for the report.
But buried among a number of rumors in the 61 pages is one accusation that seems striking in light of Collier’s claim that Governor Bentley had an affair with Senior Political Advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason.
An ALEA staffer, Ashley Cook, says State Trooper Wendell Ray Lewis became uncomfortable with things Collier was asking him to do.
Specifically, Cook is quoted in the report as saying:
“[Ray] was being asked to delete certain things, and get rid of certain things, mansion logs and different things. Ray said he would not do it. He also said Mrs. Bentley was aware of the logs and that it, and her lawyer was, and that it would not be in the best interest for anybody to do that.”
The report says Cook told investigators Lewis was pushed out, but it says specifically:
“He just wasn’t willing to do what they were asking him to do anymore. Spencer had asked him to cover who was at the mansion, and who wasn’t, and the times that they were there.”
The report goes on:
Cook denied knowledge of Bentley’s role in the orders. She stated she was aware of Collier’s directives, but was unsure if he was operating in anticipation on his own, or through orders given by Bentley.
Collier’s attorney says, “Any inference that Spencer instructed Ray to delete records is false. ALEA should have interviewed Spencer and Ray about this rather than printing this.”
Collier’s lawyer says the confusion stems from a change in how visitors to the governor’s mansion were tracked.
UPDATE: Spencer Collier says that through her claims, Ms. Cook has opened herself up to civil litigation. He says he intends to pursue a lawsuit. He added he intends to name the investigator that produced the report as well, April Bickhaus.
WHNT News 19 has now filed open records requests for all of the governor’s mansion logs from 2012 onward.
The governor’s office told us they were not the keeper of those records, that they belonged to ALEA.
ALEA has acknowledged they received our request, but they have not indicated yet how they will respond.